It was my third run of the annual ADK Luge Club’s Spring Race. And it was my last run of the season. I pulled off from the start and went straight and true down the start ramp. Then onto the track. Once I was on the track I checked my position: shoulders back, hands relaxed. Then the self talk started: “Down Down Down”….into the upper portion of the track. Clean through the labyrinth, into Curve 14 and clean into the chicane. (BTW. If you need a quick reminder of the track layout. Here is a brief description.) I was having an awesome run. I was having the best run of my life…
The Annual ADK Luge Club Spring Race was a two day affair this year. Friday evening we had a practice session. Saturday evening was the race. I got to the track on Friday at 4:30 to get ready. The weather was great, the people (as always) fantastic, and I was feeling good. We had a bunch of kids who used to slide with the club, but were now on the national team training to race at an Olympic level, sliding with us in the race. It was awesome to see them and slide with them. Someday I will be able to watch the Olympics and say I slide with that kid when he/she was 8.
Friday night was a huge struggle. I sent Coreen a text after the session that said “Total Suckfest”. My first two runs were terrible. Two of the worst of my season. Then I got to my “F’ it” space. That’s my space where I get tired of doing things wrong and pound down the track. Then I finally commit to trying to do things right. For some reason the act of getting into that space calms and focuses me. As usual when I finally get to this space things were much better and my third run wasn’t terrible.
Saturday night came. My fan club arrived at the track ready to distract my competition.
The view was spectacular.
The format was a little unusual for a luge race: 3 runs, lowest total time for the best (i.e. fastest) 2 out of 3 runs. Usually a luge race is only two run and lowest total time wins. Now we had one run to throw away. One mulligan.
I slide in the Adult B group. Adult B is for us grown-up folks who are slow. We divide up this way so that slower people can compete against each other and have a chance to win something. I was the second off in my group.
First up was Don. Don is a long time slider with the club. Don has runs like all of us in the B group: “exciting”. Don uncorked a fast group B run. 47.475. I was second, and so I was ready to pull off. Onto the handles, pull off onto the start ramp. Straight and true. Lay on the sled, onto the track. Between the start ramp and the first curve check position. Check. Then a self talk mantra started “Down Down Down”. I don’t know where it came from it just popped into my head. I was reminding myself to keep my shoulders down and commit to having decent form. And I was distracting myself from over thinking. It seamed to work.
Into and through the labyrinth clean. Into curve 14 and onto the chicane. Pretty clean. Couple of steers to keep in the middle. Into the lower portion of the track. “Down Down Down” through the finish line and up the outramp. Eyes on the clock: 47.828 (best run ever). Fist pump.
I ended up 3rd out of 6. Don had the fastest run. My friend Jenni also had a fast run of 47.587. The other 3 sliders all had “issues”.
Back up to the start for run 2. I was having fun and I was focused.
Onto the start handles. Pull off and onto the ramp. Straight and true. “Down Down Down”. Through the labyrinth clean. Into the chicane. Clean. Little steer. Into and through the bottom portion of the track clean. Up the outramp. Now you can tell how good of a run you had by how far up the outramp you get.
That’s about where I had been stopping. But I kept going up the ramp and finishing at the gate to get off.
47.449 Another personal best. Jenni and Don both followed up their good first runs with better second runs. They both also posted personal best times on their second runs. One of the sliders (Bill) from the first run who had problems uncorked a beauty of a run and had a 46.799 run time. That was a personal best for him by a significant amount of time (like more than a second). So now things were interesting. We all had one run to toss. A good third run for Bill would mean his first run was tossed. He was definitely in the mix.
So up we go to the start for our third run. Don went first and had a couple of issues. Slowest run of the night for him (one to toss). And it was my turn. I was focused. I was determined. I was ready. Well you know how this run was going. I had a FANTASTIC run going. I knew it was a good one but I was focused. I felt great…..
….I got to the end of the chicane and my sled began to drift towards the right wall. I corrected a just a little too much and drove my sled into the left wall. Game over. There was nothing left but to get safely to the finish line.
Jenni also had a tough third run and tossed that run.
Bill, well he had a good but not great run. Where would we end up?
After all of the math was finished Don finished first. He had two very strong runs for his time. Jenni finished second. Bill finished 3rd edging me out. And I finished 4th. All four of us had personal best times in this race. It was a very strong night for the Group B adults.
Yes, I was dissapointed. I had two really good runs, they were both Personal Bests. They were my first two runs and so if we had used a normal format I would have finished third. But really I was dissapointed because I let the third run get away. Looking at the split times I would have had my third personal best of the night. And in all likelihood I had a run going that was fast enough to put me in second place. But I didn’t finish it and so that’s how it fell.
In the end, I cannot be too dissapointed. I slide two fantastic runs. My third run, with the wall contact was still my third fastest run of the weekend. I found an inner voice that helped me relax and focus while I am was on my sled. It was a great year and I made a lot of progress. Next year the goal is to be sliding 46 second runs and then to get to 45 by the end of the season.
Now, I am putting my sled away for 6 months. Got a little something call Leadville to look forward to before I get back onto my sled. But I am ready to get back on it and pick up where I left off.