Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Great Day for a Race

We could've hunkered down for the day, the temperatures were on the underside of zero again on Saturday. But there we were, up at Giants Ridge, near Biwabik, for my other favorite child's heat in the high school invitational nordic races. There were more than 1,300 skiers over two days, so I knew there would be a lot of people there, but I was surprised at the crowd of spectators. The lodges were packed and the start/finish line area was frequently shoulder to shoulder as well (Non-racers were not allowed to scatter out along the course). You'd think all the body heat would help warm things up, but no such luck. Not having up-to-date, high-tech cold-weather wear, I went the onion route: layers, layers and layers. The woman working in the coffee shop looked a little taken back. "Oh, I see you aren't skiing today," she said.

Nope. So I didn't have to get pre-race jitters, either. Unlike a certain daughter, who got some coaching while dropping her drawers and snapping in:

Then it was time for the warm cape and funneling into the starting gate and some encouraging words from the other coach.

Always a last-minute equipment malfunction, natch. Nothing a good hard stomp on the binding didn't fix, however.

And then, there she was, just her and her butterflies. No warm cape, just her UnderArmor and her school colors (notice how 15-year-olds can wear skintight blocks of color and pull it off). A pair of skiers were beeped onto the course every 20 seconds (it sounded just like the Olympics).

A good launch and then she disappeared for 5K.

As a mom, a k a an embarrassment to my children, I was so proud of her. I only wish my camera battery hadn't frozen — I don't have any photos of her crossing the finish line, which was on the other side of that green fence. I had just enough juice left to get a quick photo of these kids from Northfield, who would start dancing in a huddle from time to time. It was pretty funny.

A few things worth mentioning:

• I haven't seen that many pairs of mukluks in one place ever. They truly are the best boot ever. I love mine.

• It was great to see how all the kids cheered each other on. They'd watch the clock and dash back out when their 'mates were due back at the finish and scream just as loudly to get them across the line as they did when they set off at the start.

• Controlled chaos is an amazing thing. People were coming, going, coming, going and it all worked.

• Look both ways — and again— when crossing from the lodge to the spectator line. It's nuts out there.

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