Progress?

The next 9 days are pretty much luge focused. Its a 9 day span with 5 days of sliding and two races.

Today was the ADK Luge Club Icebreaker Race. Its a race that the club puts on to start the year. It gets the adults going, and gives some young kids a chance to race, maybe for the first time. Next weekend is the US National Masters Luge Competition. The premier event for the over the hill sliding gang. More on that one in a minute.

Bailey and I spent the weekend in Lake Placid. Saturday night we had a practice session. Sunday morning we had the race.

Practice was good. Well it started a little sketchy for me. I tried to drive myself into a wall. Actually I did a little more than try. Luckily I drove myself out of it before I did any real damage. My other three runs got progressively better, with my last being probably the best run I have taken this year. Maybe ever. It felt good. Bailey continued to crank out consistent runs. Trying to break into the 46 second range, not quite getting there. We were both looking forward to the race.

In a funny twist of fate Bailey was placed in my group, Adult “B” (the slow adults) for the race. Bailey is in a strange situation. He is too big to race a fair race with the little kids. He is not on one of the development teams (like the other kids his age) so he is slower just because he doesn’t get as much track time. We needed a slider in my group and so Bailey slid against me in my group.

Since last week winter has descended upon the North Country. Look more snow than we got all last winter!

The mountains are awesome in the winter……But I digress.

OK onto the race. A luge race consists of two runs for which the times are added. Lowest total time wins. The order for the first run is determined by draw. The second run is reverse order (slowest to fastest) based on the first run. There were three sliders in my group. Bailey, me and my friend Jen (I have a lot of Jen friends).

Bailey was first and promptly threw down a 46.5 (personal best). Jen went second and threw down a 48.5 (personal best). I went last. The track was cleared. I pulled off, started down the track, and hit a wall on the start ramp. Good news/bad news on that. Good news is that on the start ramp you are going pretty slow. So physical damage is small. The bad news is that going slow on the start ramp translates into a slow time. The rest of my run was pretty clean and I was down with a 48.8. Not a personal best. Solidly in 3rd (last place).

Back up to the top for the second run. Now I get to go first in our little group of 3. There is no way I am going to win. Bailey would have to crash, and he just doesn’t do that. Best case is to pull a fast run out and move into 2nd. Ready for the second run. Onto the handles. Pull off (not into the wall ;)) but not my best start. I really tried to lay back and stay low on my sled on this run. My run felt really good and fast. Through the Labyrinth, through Benham’s Bend, hole shot through the Chicane (all of the Team kids lined the wall in chicane to watch us old folks) into the Heart. I over steered 17 (the first corner in the Heart), which put me into turn 18 on a real bad line. In fact it was a pretty close to the line I took on my crash/concussion run last year. I realized what was happening, put on a hard (very hard) steer to get through the corner. The sled crossed hard (as expected given my crappy line) into the final corner. Steer through that and through the finish.

Jen slide her second run and was just a little faster than her first run (another PB). Bailey also threw down a second personal best on his second run.

How’d we finish? Well Bailey was first, by almost 3 seconds (that’s a huge amount). Jen was second. She was faster than me on her second run as well and ended up beating me by half a second total. My third run?

It was faster than my first: 48.7. The time was better than I thought it was going to be. I looked at my splits. It was a really fast run (for me) right until the last split where I had my problem. I would have been very close to 48.0. And so I left a ton of time on the track. Kim the track announcer said (while I was sliding, over the PA, to everybody at the track) that my line through 18 was not a preferred racing line but since I am a rocket scientist, I must have a plan. That’s all the bad news.

The good news. I would have crashed this run last year. When I got out of 17 I realized what was going on (said something bad in my head) and committed to full survival mode just to finish (the only way I wasn’t going to get a medal today was to not finish).

So I give myself a C+ for today. Today was actually my lowest combined time in a two heat race ever. Even lower than the in the race I won last spring. BUT I am dissapointed. I pulled one out just to get to the finish, but I left a lot of time on the track.

I want to say something about Bailey. He has this amazing ability to change gears on race day. No matter how training goes (good or bad) he always slides his fastest, or faster, on race day. He focuses, concentrates and gets it done. He has a real internal strength. He impresses me.

Next weekend I race against the usual gang plus a number of former Olympians. Within the “not professional” club gang, I am one of the newest athletes competing. I am going to get crushed. I have a decent chance of finishing last. That’s fine………….. if I bring my A game. If I can walk away and say I slid my best.

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