We woke up at 5:40am on Sunday morning after a few beers the previous night. We didn't sleep so good... I was nervous, the neighbors were loud. The man-friend had some coffee and I had some water, and with an empty stomach we were on our way to Vail at 6:10am.
We arrived at the Lionshead parking lot at 6:40am, rushing to pick up our race packets and get ready to go. While I always try to get my ski gear ready fairly fast, 10 minutes does not seem enough to put ski boots on, put skins on skis, pack my pack, get layers on, find goggles, hat, gloves, etc. Too many things...
We walked fast (in ski boots) towards the base of the Gondola and got there 3mins before start time. I was already panting. Picked up race chip, got my skis on the ground, clipped in, looked for my garmin, couldn't start it, 1 minute to go (they announced), found my camera, put it in my pocket, dropped a glove, 45 seconds, took my pack off, looked for my shell, it's not there, left it in the car... oh crap! 30 seconds, took my puffy off, put it in pack, 15 seconds, put my pack on, walk towards start line, 10 seconds, kiss from man-friend, good luck! 5 seconds... 4, 3, 2, 1... OFF WE GO!
I started in the back of the pack... still trying to make my Garmin work "Oh, screw it!" kept walking. The pack was slowly pulling away and I looked up to see if I could figure out where the man-friend was, couldn't see him. The first part straight from the start line had a mild angle, so it didn't seem too bad, but as soon as we turned right, it got steeper. "Great, what the heck did I get myself into?!!?!?!" I kept going... people kept getting farther and farther away from me and some others that started late were catching up to me. My brain started speaking to me: "Ok, skinning is not your thing... all you gotta do is keep going. Slow and steady, just keep going".
In my head, I didn't care if I was first or last, I knew it was hard and I'm not experienced. Yep, I was a rookie. The person "sweeping" the course caught up to me, she was super nice, kept me company and gave me a heads up of what was coming up. She even took a couple of pictures of me along the way. At the halfway point, I knew for sure I was the last one but I was still smiling. And I could still see the people in front of me. Never lost sight of them.
The last hill was the worst. Seemed long and steep... Actually, it was steeper than it was long. Pretty painful but I pushed through. Once at the top, there was a nice flat section along the ridge and on to the finish line, where apart from the 2 race staff members there was one more person. My man. He made me smile, as he always does.
We then headed to the lodge at Eagle's Nest where they gave us hot cocoa and some food and we stayed for the awards ceremony. To our surprise, the "Heavy Metal 20-29 Female Category" only had 2 contestants. So I got second. Yep, I got my silver medal. Ok, I wasn't the fastest, but apparently, only 2 girls in my age group are brave (and awesome) enough to put on a pair of skis and walk up a mountain for a total of 2 miles and 2500 ft of elevation gain.
To those who read on Friday about our goal times, here's the veredict: No, neither one of us hit our goal time. It was harder than we thought. He finished in 1hr8mins as opposed to the 46mins he estimated. As for me, I finished in 1hr44min instead of the 1hr15mins I said I thought I could finish it in. Lesson learned: NEVER underestimate an uphill race.
Truth is, we earned our turns so we ended our morning by skiing a few runs, 3 or 4. When we decided to come down to town, we skied down a nice blue run: Simba, the run we skinned up. I've skied this run countless times throughout my life but I will never EVER see it the same way. It will always be the run I "skied up".
Came back home with a silver medal that made me feel like a rockstar... especially after still completing my 9mile training run later at night. Who said Ironman training was boring??