In January I got a couple of emails from friends telling me they missed luging. Which was really funny seeing as how they have never actually been on a track luging. They asked when I would share the stories of my winter escapades. Apparently by “missing luging” what they really meant was they missed hearing about me beating and bruising myself on a sled. I told them that the stories this winter went something like this: I wasn’t sliding and I didn’t know if I would be sliding this year. For a number of reasons, none of which are important to share, luging had become something that was not fun and so my sled sat dusty in my basement.
Somewhere around February I started to feel like I wanted to get back on the track. And so I circled the US Luge Masters National Championship on my calendar. If you do a quick search on this blog for Luge Masters you are going to find a lot of entries. Things like this. Masters is my favorite time of the year in the luge world. What better weekend to get back on the ice? What better way to prepare for a National Championship than to not prepare or practice at all? Yeah baby!
We had two days of practice before the race. My first practice run was “exciting”. It felt fast. By fast I mean, it felt like my brain was just a little bit behind my sled on the track. That my friends is the very definition of an exciting run. But I made it to the bottom. Rust knocked off, most of my skin still on. I called it a win. My second run was my 3rd fastest run ever (ha and you thought my plan was foolish!). My 3rd was again a little bit all over the place, but I got down.
OK. Onto Saturday and the second day of practice. Saturday morning was when the universe laughed at my little training plan. It started with g forces causing me to “loose my head” (you head flies back and you get to look up instead of forward) in the last corner. I finished but wasn’t super happy. My second run was again really good. Then my third run happened…..
The track has taken a beating this winter. While it is a refrigerated track, the winter of non-winter, has been hard on it. It was a bumpy mess. The chicanes (a track description is here for those of you who have forgotten) in particular were bad.
I cleaned up some issues on the upper portion of the track and entered into the chicanes with a good bit of speed whereupon which I bounced my way through this “straight” section of track. When I got into the long fast 3 corner combination (the Heart) to end my run my head snapped back (lost again). This is a really interesting place to be looking at the roof of the track. There is a mural, similar to that from the Sistine Chapel, painted on the ceiling. It’s a spectacular view. OK, not so much. Its a BAD place to be looking at the roof. You cannot see your steering marks PLUS its a spot on the track where you can get hurt if you don’t hit your marks.
I managed to cop a quick peak at some point and saw I was “OK” line wise and finished. My neck was sore (whiplash from bouncing through the chicane and stress from fighting g’s with my “fresh” neck muscles). I’m getting better and listening to what my body says and my body was saying that a couple of more training runs had NO upside. I decided to call it quits and get ready for the race the next morning……