Nationals was near home for the first time in over ten years.  It’s been 11 years since I traveled less than 1,500 miles to team trials or nationals.  The only trouble was that to have the race near me, we had to organize it (me, Jennie Goldberg, Mike Baker, Rich Roehner, and Doug Ritchie).  Organizing and racing at the same event is a very different experience from simply racing.

With the exception of one major shuttle problem, the race went very well.  Timing worked out well, our volunteers were great, and the North Cascades provided a beautiful setting.

My racing was a little different.  I varied from my normal pre-race routine, though I tried not to.  I cooked my normal pancakes/french toast on Saturday and Sunday morning.  I did my stretching, and got in good warm up paddles.  But I didn’t do a detailed mental run of the sprint course, I didn’t do a practice run, and I didn’t look at the course before the race.  The first run went well, and I was in first by six seconds ahead of Jack Ditty.  I thought I could be a touch faster in my second run, changed my line slightly, and eddied out on the right in a spot I’ve never had trouble before.  I ended up in second place, one second behind Jack Ditty.  He’s the third to beat me since 2001, and had a great race.  I was angry.

The classic was much better, and I had a perfect rabbit in front of me.  I almost caught John Pinyerd- I crossed the finish line three seconds after he did, and won by 52 seconds.  Andy Bridge came out for the classic and took second, just ahead of John.  So, that means nationals number 8 for me.  And gives me some motivation for the next big race when I might sprint against Jack Ditty again.

Now, I’m in the middle of a month off, and am preparing for my next year.  I don’t know how training will look while I am doing student teaching, but it is likely to involve a lot of early mornings and paddling in the dark…

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