photo by Steve Penland

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Salt Lake City Curse

On Friday, I'll be leaving for Salt Lake City to skate the final American Cup race of the season (yes, pre-"post season depression" is already threatening to set in, sore legs notwithstanding).  A quick review of my race results from Salt Lake over the past seven years reveals this:

  • 2006  North American Championships.  This was a great event for me; I set age-group records in three of the four events (the North Americans were pack style back then, and not many masters skated them.)  I broke 5 minutes in the 3K for the first time ever--4:59.32--thanks to a very generous draft from a talented Senior-age skater who was put in with us "older ladies."
  • 2007  US Championships.  Another great event for me.  Personals in three of the four distances, including what is still my fastest 5K ever, 8:16.
  • 2010 Masters race.  Epic Fail #1.   3k; my 5:01 was slower than I had skated the distance in Milwaukee earlier in the month (remember, SLC is a high-altitude oval which makes it typically around 1 second per lap faster than indoor sea-level ovals such as Milwaukee; a same-effort skate should result in a 3K that's 7 seconds or so faster in SLC than in MKE).
  • 2011  Masters Long Distance race.  Epic Fail #2.  My 5k, at 8:30, was again similar to what I had been achieving in Milwaukee, and about 10-15 seconds slower than what Coach TieGuy thought I should be able to do.  It was also one of the most excruciating races I've ever skated.
  • 2011 Masters Camp 1.  In the fall of 2011 I did a 3K at the end of the masters camp; a 5:02 made it Epic Fail #3. (I had done a 5:02 as the first 3K of a 5K just a couple weeks before in Milwaukee).
  • 2012  Masters Camp 2.  Having learned my lesson from Masters Camp 1, I signed up for a 500 and 1000 instead of a 3K in the for-fun time trials at the end of camp.  Still, both the 500 and the 1000 managed to end up, not at my usual Milwaukee times, but at my usual (much slower) Roseville outdoor times.  Epic Fail #4 (or is that 4 and 5?)
In short, I have not had a good race at Salt Lake since 2007. And since this season has been pretty much the worst season I've had since, well, since I started skating, 2012 is not looking like the year I break the SLC curse.

So why, you might ask, am I going?  Well, although it sounds a bit lame, I signed up because it "seemed like a good idea at the time."  I was having fun skating, although not going terribly fast; all my friends were signing up and making plans to go; and if I didn't do the American Cup in SLC in early March, my "big races" would be done for the season in January.  I have enough trouble coping with the end of the skating season without it essentially coming 6 weeks early.

So I signed up, I got my plane ticket and my hotel room and my rental car, and I'm setting my attitude on the now-familiar "have as much fun as possible and don't stress about how fast you skate" mode. 

And if the Salt Lake City Curse again rears its ugly head and I have a horrible 3K...well, at least it won't be a surprise!

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