Author’s Note: The pictures in today’s post are again courtesy of Laura Murphy, who suffered a sub zero race morning (it is almost spring right???) to get some more awesome shots.
OK, so for my last run the night before the biggest race of the year, the race where I get to slide with Olympians, where some of the competitors have been sliding as long as I have been alive, I tagged walls. But I was calm and centered in the morning. And in a very non-Fat Cyclist way, I have been calm recently before luge races. It was race day, and well, I wasn’t going to win. So there was no real pressure (except what I heap on myself). I did, however, bring my game face
and my race suit. No sense giving up even before the race starts. You never know. There had been a lot of crashes during practice. And well it was possible that two of the good sliders could crash and I could sneak into 3rd. (And maybe I would hit a moose on the way to the track. The odds were about even, considering the only moose I have ever seen in the Adirondacks is on a sign.)
I also opted for my Leadville Tech-T as my base base layer.
The quotes help me to put what I am going to do in perspective.
It was cold when I got up. Like below zero cold. (Just a couple of days before April. Hey Spring WTF?) But it was dry, and we were hoping the track workers had prepped to give us a fast track. Ladies and Gentlemen when we got there it was a fast track. The track workers had worked on the start ramp and had sprayed a light layer of water on top of the ice. Instead of the hazy ice we had been seeing the past few weeks, we saw a glassy track. The anticipation built.
Race day in the start house is different. There is a seriousness in it. Even if this isn’t our job, even if our future doesn’t depend on how we do in this race, well, who doesn’t want to be the fastest person in a sport in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. (Even if it is a niche sport like Luge. How many of you can say you were National Champions????)
I was in a good place, focused.
Here’s was the deal. There were 7 of us in our division (the “Not Yet in AARP” Men’s Division). 4 of the sliders were much faster than me. My sole hope of getting onto the podium was to: 1. Slide two heats better than I have ever done before. Way better. 2. To hope that two of them slid at least one really bad run, preferable two really bad runs. It was a long shot. In the “slow” sliders group there was me, my friend Jim, and a guest who is pretty good considering he only really slides with us during races. Jim has the ability to slide faster than me, but he has been suffering the dreaded inconsistency problems. You may remember Jim from this picture:
My line, while not perfect, was faster by virtue of the fact that I was ON my sled:
I was the 6th slider and Jim was the 7th.
I didn’t pay much attention to the times of the first 5 sliders, but I did hear that one of my friends broke 45 seconds (this is THE metric for a really fast run on this track, from this start location) so I knew the track was fast. I pulled off, didn’t paddle and went straight down the start ramp.
I had a really nice run. Not a personal best, but it was one of my best most relaxed runs ever.
I made it through the Labyrinth (the first 1/3 of the track) cleanly. I got onto the chicane cleanly and even managed to relax there. Then into the heart. I felt the turns and did what was needed. And then I flew across the finish line up the out ramp and past the clock. I missed seeing my time, but the results would show that my time was 46.487 seconds (just over 1.5 seconds behind the race leader). It’s a lot of fun to carry so much speed into the finish that you go past the clock without being about to see it. Jim, slid a fantastic 1st run and had a personal best at 46.178 (he OBLITERATED his PB by half a second). I was in 6th place.
My people sent out a social media blast informing my fans of my good run.
Time to get ready for the second run.
The Adirondack Mountains are a beautiful place. Even if you get cold and snow in spring.
And one of the nice things about spring is that the sun in intense and warms things nicely. The cold -5 F temps climbed and kept climbing. Not to the point where the fast track was in danger of slowing, but to the point where you really did appreciate having a chance to be outside (even in spandex).
Run 2 was in reverse order of finish, which meant I was second off the handles. My second run was a carbon copy of the first. Nice, clean, relaxed. Just a hint of a bobble at the end. 0.08 seconds slower, but enough to be in first place after 2 sliders.
My day and my season, finished.
It was time to wait and see.
Jim came down next and had a slightly rough run. I moved ahead of him in the standings. Today’s finish is brought to you by the letter “C”(onsistency). It was time to see if any of the fast dudes would choke under the pressure.
The sport of Luge is timed to the 1/1000th of a second. And here is why.
3rd and 4th place were separated by 0.003 seconds. After two runs, which took just over 1 minute and 30 seconds of total time, they were separated by 0.003 seconds. 1st and 2nd were separated by 0.020 seconds. So the short answer is no, none of the top 4 sliders blinked and I ended up in 5th place.
Neither of my 2 runs were personal best times. They were close, but not quite there. BUT, but, my combined time made this this fastest two run race of my career. I found my groove and ended the season sliding fast and confident.
Picture of the Day
“To the Victor….”