My apologies for taking so long to post an update.
The last few weeks have been an experience to say the least. I have raced in Europe before, but I have not stayed for longer then 10 days. In addition, I didn't know what to expect coming here after the racing season had concluded in Canada.
When I stepped off the plane in Stockholm I immediatly was excited to see the city so after an hour run on the ski trails by the airport/ across from my hotel I took the train into Stockholm. I immediately fell in love with this city, and definetly plan to go back either for school or work in the near future, there is something about the buildings, the proximity to sking, the nightlife and the confrences (there is currently an architecture confrence on in Stockholm). I loved the combination of cobble stone with the river with lots of shopping. There is nothing you can't do there!
The following day I had some intensity planned, but due to lack of snow I would have to run. I decided that it would be fine to run for an hour and a half. When your excited, any practical thought seems to fade. This is what happened in my case! The run was amazing! I ran in a t.shirt through the countryside that surrounded stockholm. Here there were some old churches and a bike path that continued along the road. I got back and my legs were pretty much screaming at me and I knew that it may have been a bit ambitious of me to run for so long and do 15min of tempo....
That all said, I went back to the airport and met the rest of the team. We drove to Gavle which is about 1.5hrs from Stockholm and waited for Sara. I may have took too many melatonin pills and advils to try to stop my legs from hurting and I was pretty loopy when Sara arrived. I also managed to sleep almost the entire 8 hr van ride to Pitea and then also fall asleep that night- so much for jet leg.
The races in Pitea were a learning experience. I don't think I had trained enough during the two weeks between Nationals and our trip as I just couldn't digest the pain. In the 3.3k prologue it seemed I had forgot how to race and fight through the course, this was confirmed when Charlotte Kalla went zooming by me, I had wanted so badly to go with her as she started 30sec behind me, but I couldn't wrap my head around what I was doing. The classic race was much better, but I just couldn't convince myself to fight- it was very odd!
We left Pitea and headed for Finland. We raced in Tornio, Pello and Yllas. All of which lie on the Tornio River just north of the Arctic Circle. VERY cool. Sara and I did much better here, it would seem that our jet leg was wearing off! The only downside was that it was so grey the entire time and our hopes for a spring skiing holiday didn't really come true! I managed to race to my best points races for the year in both the skate races. I was 5th in Tornio and 6th in Pello. Both races I found like I was pushing as hard as I could but I was making some technical errors on the corners and downhills that definetly cost me time. Yllas was one of those days that I just wasn't prepared for. I didn't really warm up or test skiis, I had no idea where the course was and my head was somewhere else. Sara on the other hand I think has figured out here classic skiing as this was one of her better races this year! The biggest thing I have learned here is that you have to bring your 'A' game to every race no matter what or you will lose places very quickly. Everyone here is fast and going for it. I find sometimes in Canada you can be lazy and still come away with a good placing, but here you have to fight for inches and seconds. This actually makes the course way more fun!
We are now in Bruksvallarna in Sweden. It is like a dream world here. I didn't know you could crust ski in the mountains, and I didn't know that so many people ski here. There are cabins all over the trails where you can go get some waffles or a beer. It is so tempting to ski for the whole day and have a beer on the patio at our hotel...but we have races on Saturday and there will be plenty of time for socializing then!
The course for Saturday is INTENSE! it will most likely be warm and slushy, and it climbs up the alpine hill for 3km...I'm actuall okay with that. The part I am a little apprehensive about is the descending!
All in all its been such a great experience!