Beware the Bonk
I didn’t wake up thinking today would be a good day to bonk. But bonk I did.
Yesterday was the final cross country ski race for Steamboat Springs. The Rabbit Ears Pass Marathon is a 17k or 34k race held at just below 10,000 feet on the pass. I thought I had a grasp on the terrain, my fitness, what the kind of effort I needed to ski the two laps. I felt good.
The first lap was what I expected. I paced myself with the thought of a second lap. I stopped at the aid station and took a bite to eat and a drink. I started off and skiing up the hill from the aid station I hit the proverbial bonk wall. I hit it straight on. Smack. All my good feelings and ski momentum disappeared in a bonk blink.
It happened so quick at first I wasn’t sure what was happening. It only took a few seconds to realize my ski technique had disappeared into the choppy motions of a cross country skiing marionette. The Bonk Master controlling the strings. My muscles had nothing to offer. I was skiing through Mississippi mud.
Skier after skier disappeared ahead of me up the hill and around forested corners of the trail. I was left with little except a very loud bonk voice in my head telling me I had nothing. Bonk cramps in my legs shouted to stop. The mental mind game of doing something, anything, to keep moving forward played against the physical limits of bonking.
The course up on Rabbit Ears doesn’t offer any escape. You’re out there. The only hope of finding a blanket and warm fireplace to curl up in front of to whimper the day away is to ski for it. Finish it out. Keep skiing or whatever it was I was doing with long narrow planks on my feet and equally long sticks in my hands. Wave them around like wands maybe something good will happen somehow…
I finished. There is no predicting a bonk. The Bonk does come out of nowhere. No one wakes up and says today I’m going to bonk in my ski race, or bike race, or bonk during a lunch time bike ride or mellow hike in the mountains. Bonks happen and they happen to good people. They won’t happen while you’re sleeping or napping in a hammock. They will happen when you least expect them doing the activities you love that require some physical effort.
The answer to the bonk is perseverance and do what it takes to get yourself home to play another day. I’m looking forward to next winter’s Nordic season. I’ve got a little redemption in mind…